5 Detroit Tigers Bullpen Questions

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Sep 1, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) pitches in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Cleveland won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

#5: Should the Detroit Tigers rely upon Bruce Rondon?

A few years back the Detroit Tigers foolishly handed over the keys to the closer’s role to a young and unknown hard throwing pitcher named Bruce Rondon. He didn’t end up making the team out Spring Training, causing the 2013 Tigers to go to bullpen by committee and ultimately back to Jose Valverde.

Later in that 2013 season, Rondon found himself and was a very effective bullpen option, allowing just two runs in his final 15 appearances. Had he been around in the ALCS perhaps the Tigers season wouldn’t have ended at that stage, but he wasn’t, suffering arm troubles that limited his September appearances and none in the playoffs.

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Those arm problems continued into last Spring Training and he was gone for the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The Tigers have been bringing Rondon along slowly, but still have high hopes for him. Can they be realized?

It is a tough thing to come back from Tommy John surgery–just ask Joel Hanrahan. However Bruce is about a decade younger than Joel and younger pitchers have bounced back nicely, and often thrived, after the surgery.

Spring Training has been a bit of a mixed bag for Rondon. He has speed and has been able to strikeout batters. He also seems to have better control than he did early in 2013, however he can have his off moments like when he allowed an Alex Rodriguez homer in an otherwise perfect inning last week.

If healthy, Rondon should thrive. He does not have to worry about the pressure of being a closer or even a setup man so hopefully he can just go out and focus on getting batters out.

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